COLUMBIA HISTORIC STATE PARK
The town's old Gold Rush-era business district has been preserved with shops, restaurants and two hotels. Visitors have the chance to time-travel to the 1850s, imagining life when gold miners rubbed shoulders with businessmen and the other residents in Columbia. Visitors can experience a bygone era watching proprietors in period clothing conduct business in the style of yesterday. There are opportunities to ride a 100 year-old stagecoach, pan for gold, and explore the real working businesses of Columbia.
Established during the California Gold Rush in 1850, Columbia quickly became one of the largest and richest towns in the state. The city thrived for several years before experiencing a decline when gold began to run out. By 1865, many miners had left seeking new opportunities elsewhere.
Despite this downturn, some residents remained committed to preserving their town's rich history. In an effort led by these locals along with historians and preservationists from around California, they successfully lobbied for recognition as a historic site.
In response to these efforts, on July 6th ,1945 it was declared a State Historic Park by Governor Earl Warren through legislation signed into law that year which aimed at protecting sites significant historical value across California.
Today it stands preserved almost exactly as it did over hundred years ago; offering visitors insight into life during the mid-19th century mining era complete with restored buildings including shops selling period-specific goods.
Columbia Historic State Park is located near Sonora, Modesto
Columbia Historic State Park in California offers a unique picnicking experience. Visitors can enjoy their meals at the picnic tables available within this well-preserved Gold Rush-era town setting. The park does not have barbecue grills, but visitors are allowed to bring and use their own small portable barbecues for cooking food during daytime hours only. There is also plenty of open space where families or groups can spread out blankets and relax while enjoying the historic scenery around them.
1. City Hotel Trail: This is a short, easy trail that starts at the Columbia State Historic Park and ends at the historic City Hotel. It's perfect for families with young children or those looking to take in some of California's history.
2. Mother Lode Trail: A moderate 3-mile round trip hike offering beautiful views of wildflowers during springtime and an opportunity to explore old mining sites along its path.
3. Quartz Mountain Stagecoach Road Loop: An approximately 5 miles long looped hiking route featuring scenic vistas, remnants from gold rush era stagecoaches routes, wildlife sightings including deer and birds species native to this area.
4. Marble Quarry Mine Loop: The trail covers about two miles through forested areas leading hikers towards abandoned marble quarries where they can see evidence of past extraction activities; it also offers panoramic views over surrounding landscapes on clear days.
5. Mormon Immigrant Hiking Trails: These trails offer challenging hikes up steep slopes but reward you with stunning mountainous scenery once reaching their peaks which are often covered by snow even into late spring months.
6. Columbia Diggins Walking Tour: This self-guided walking tour takes visitors around reconstructed buildings from Gold Rush-era diggings providing insight into life back then while enjoying leisurely stroll amidst park surroundings.
7. Natural Bridges Day Use Area: A relatively flat one mile walk leads you down toward limestone caverns formed by Coyote Creek flowing under massive rock formations creating natural bridges hence giving name to these unique geological features visible here.
8. Tuttletown Recreation Area: Hike alongside New Melones Lake taking in serene water scenes as well varied flora fauna inhabiting region; picnic spots available enroute making it great choice for family outings.
9. Golden Chain Theatre Pathway :A shorter pathway connecting main part state park Golden Chain theatre known hosting melodramas every summer season since mid-twentieth century.
10. Hot Shot Trail: This trail offers a challenging hike with steep inclines and declines, but rewards hikers with stunning views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. This is an excellent option for experienced hikers looking to test their endurance.
11. Columbia State Historic Park Loop: A 1-mile loop that takes you through Columbia's historic downtown area as well as its beautiful natural surroundings; it's perfect if you're interested in both history and nature.
12. Yankee Hill Trails: These trails are located on eastern edge park offering more secluded hiking experience away from main tourist areas while still providing ample opportunities wildlife viewing amidst dense forest coverings.
Free Town Tours each Saturday and Sunday, year-round. Led by staff and docents. Meet at the museum. Approximately 1 hour.
For large groups, special tours may be arranged in advance by calling 588-9128.
Gold Rush days- 2nd Saturday of each month. Many special exhibits open and hands-on activities throughout the day. Park docents in period attire lead programs throughout the park. Call 588-9128 for details.
Special School programs designed to meet state curriculum standards for 4th graders are offered from September-June. Students enjoy an hour-long history program at the museum led by park staff, including a bucket brigade. Then students walk to the original brick schoolhouse for an hour-long 1860s living history school program. Registration forms for the program are available at www.columbiacalifornia.com, or may be obtained by calling the park office at 588-9128. Programs are popular and fill quickly.
Columbia State Historic Park is three miles north of Sonora, off Highway 49.
Latitude/Longitude: 38.0364 / -120.4003.